This seminar presents new evidence about the evolution of life and the search for life on Mars. Repeated visits to the c. 3.5 Ga Dresser Formation of the Pilbara Craton, Australia, have refined knowledge of the geological setting of the earliest life on Earth and uncovered many types of biosignatures preserved in deposits that include a wide array of hotspring facies. These new discoveries have significantly changed the view of the setting of earliest life on Earth, and lend support to an origin of life in terrestrial hotsprings, which has profound implications for the search for life on Mars.
Martin Van Kranendonk was born and trained in Canada, receiving his PhD in 1992 and then undertaking a post-doc position at the Geological Survey of Canada from 1992-1994. In 1994, Martin moved to Australia as an ARC post-doctoral fellow at the University of Newcastle, where he commenced research on the Pilbara. He then joined the Geological Survey of Western Australia in 1997, where he worked for 15 years until the start of 2012, when he accepted a position as Professor of Geology at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia, where he is the Director of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology. A leading world expert on early Earth, his main interests are Archean tectonics and the geological setting of early life on Earth. Martin has appeared on numerous television and radio documentaries on early Earth, and has been involved in educational outreach programs for school children and the general public.